For once, it was not monstrous sixes, booming lofted hits down the ground or flat-batted slaps square on the offside that dotted a Chris Gayle innings. Instead, the West Indies opener's 17-ball 21 against Australia in World Cup 2019 was marked by a series of happenings which ended in him being given out off what could have been a free-hit.
The Jamaican left-hander survived an appeal for leg-before wicket and a caught behind off Australia pace spearhead Mitchell Starc in the third over by successfully reviewing both decisions which went against him. Both times he was given out by umpire Chris Gaffaney. However, he could not save himself with his third use of the Decision Review System (DRS), falling to Starc.
The third over of the West Indies innings was rather eventful. Gayle nicked the fourth ball for four, with Starc disconcerting him by mixing up the length. The four came off a short delivery that had Gayle hopping and fending. The next delivery was fuller and, in real-time, seemed to take the inside-edge on the way to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. The subsequent appeal for a caught behind was answered in the affirmative by Gaffaney. Gayle reviewed instantly and got the decision in his favour, with the ball actually hitting the off-stump on its way to the 'keeper.
The drama didn't end there.
On the sixth ball of the over, Starc's inswinger hit Gayle on the full on his back pad and again, Gaffaney signalled out after Australia went up in appeal for an lbw. Gayle reviewed again successfully. The ball had swung in prodigiously and hawk-eye showed the impact to be outside leg-stump.
The Gayle-Starc duel continued and ended on the fifth ball of the fifth over in a controversial manner, with Gayle muttering to himself on his way back.
What prompted the displeasure was the DRS returning 'umpire's call' after Gaffaney had given him 'out' after once again being hit on the back pad by an inswinger from Starc. In real-time, Gayle looked plumb in front, but the ball had shaped in sharply and the ball tracker showed it to be only clipping the leg-stump. Because the umpire had given him out, Gayle had to walk back, out for 21 off 17 balls.
The broadcast later showed that Starc had overstepped on the fourth ball of the over, but umpire Gaffaney had not signalled no-ball. If he had, the ball that got Gayle would have been a free-hit.
In IPL 2019, umpire S. Ravi's failure to spot a no-ball proved decisive in the match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. With RCB needing seven runs to win off the last ball, umpire Ravi missed Lasith Malinga overstepping and with only a single coming off what eventually was the final ball of the match, Mumbai won by six runs.
The umpiring error incensed RCB captain Virat Kohli, who said post-match, "We are playing at the IPL level and not playing club cricket. The umpires should have had their eyes open. That is a ridiculous call in the last ball. If it is a game of margins, I don't know what is happening. They should have been more sharp and careful out there."o0
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